Fruit Cake for Christmas

Fruit Cake. Most people who read this blog who are in North America will cringe. But this isn’t your store-bought fruitcake, heavy enough to use as a doorstop, a brick or as foundations for a house. British fruitcakes are different. They are lighter, have less fruit and more cake – and no glace cherries, at least in this one (we don’t like them). I make it in standard cake tins, not one deep one, so you get 2 cakes out of the recipe, one to eat and one to freeze. Or not.

Christmas Cake
Christmas Cake

I make this cake all year long for my hubby who loves fruitcake. It’s not a colourful, ooooh, look-at-me fruitcake, but it tastes wonderful…

At Christmas he gets one all to himself as I add his tipple of choice (it’s rum this year) to a cake baked at least 6 weeks earlier and once a week gets a tablespoon drizzled onto top and bottom then wrapped up again until the following week. Christmas week I unwrap it and cover it in marzipan and fondant icing. The fruitcakes through the rest of the year don’t get iced or boozed up.

The bonus of making and icing your own fruitcake for Christmas is that you can add in the fruits you like, leave out the ones you don’t, and make the icing and marzipan as thin or as thick as you like. This recipe is also not that hard to stir once everything is in it.

The recipe:

900g mixed dried fruit (raisins, sultanas, currants, mixed peel, chopped apricots, dried cherries, dates etc.)
300ml very strong tea, hot
8oz/225g all purpose/plain flour
5 1/2 oz/150g butter, soft
5 1/2 oz/150g dark brown sugar
4 eggs
1 tbsp dark treacle/cane molasses
3 fl oz/ 100ml brandy, sherry or orange juice
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
2 1/2 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp allspice
1/2 tsp cloves
2 tsp lemon juice
1 tsp baking powder
4oz/110g ground almonds

Fondant (Royal) Icing
Marzipan to roll out
Tipple of your choice

Place the dried fruits in a large bowl, add the tea and stir well. Cover and leave at least for overnight.
Preheat the oven to 325F/170C/Gas 3.
Grease a 2 8″/20cm round cake tins with butter and flour or line with baking parchment.
Place the butter and sugar into a large bowl. Using a mixer, cream the butter into the sugar until light, smooth and creamy. Weigh out the flour.
Beat one egg into the creamed butter, then beat in a quarter of the flour. Repeat until all the eggs and flour are used up.
Add the treacle, booze or juice, spices, salt, lemon juice & baking powder to the cake mixture and stir gently using a spoon.
Drain the dried fruits and add with the ground almonds to the cake mix. Stir gently so as not to ‘flatten’ the cake mixture.
Spoon the mixture into the prepared cake tins and gently level the surface. Cook in the preheated oven for 30-35 minutes or until the cake is golden brown. You may need to swap racks or move them about depending on your oven to have them cook evenly. Leave in the pans for 20 minutes, then remove. I have loose bottomed cake pans, so leave the cake on the bottom to cool completely.

To add the booze – rum, brandy, sherry, or port, drizzle sparingly over the top and the bottom of the cake, then wrap up well in plastic wrap. Leave in a dark place for 1 week, then repeat.

When ready to ice, roll out the marzipan on a little icing sugar. Brush the cake with a little warmed apricot jam then place a circle of marzipan on top of the cake and trim around the top edge. Roll out the royal icing large enough to cover the cake, then glaze the marzipan and sides of the cake with more jam. Cover with the icing, and smooth down. Trim around the bottom of the cake.

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